Friday, October 28, 2011

Archbishop Prendergast on the priesthood

I really liked this blogpost from Ottawa Archbishop Terry Prendergast. It's about the priesthood. I think this applies today:

When the Christian community established its canon of the Scriptures, however, it reordered the sacred books so that the Old Testament would conclude with the prophet Malachi, from which today's first reading is drawn.

The Church did so because it wished to make its own Malachi's criticism of powerful priests who were not meeting God's standards. God, according to his messenger—Malachi means “my messenger”—was about to purge corruption from amidst the ministers of his people:

“The messenger of the covenant in whom you delight—indeed, he is coming says the Lord of hosts. But who can endure the day of his coming...? For he is like a refiner's fire and like fuller's soap; he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the [priestly] descendants of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, until they present offerings to the Lord in righteousness' (3.2-3).
Malachi was zealous to correct abuses in Israel's faith life: overly-political priests, abuses in worship (people were offering defective animals in sacrifice), permitting intermarriage with foreigners that led to a loss of faith among Israelites, and the spread of social injustices.

Malachi appealed to the common fatherhood of God shared by Israelites as a reason to shun marriage with foreigners. He conceived marriage as a covenantal bond instead of a contract that could end in divorce. Malachi anticipated the exalted vision of the spousal union and abhorrence of divorce that characterized Jesus' teaching on marriage.

In the closing words of his public ministry, Jesus took up Malachi's vision. He allowed that the scribes and Pharisees, because they had been constituted religious leaders, were to be followed in what they said. But not in what they did!